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The Third Reich at War Hardcover – March 19, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Describing the Third Reich from the height of its power to its collapse, Evans concludes the masterful trilogy that began with The Coming of the Third Reich and The Third Reich in Power. As in those works, Evans demonstrates a fluent style and a sweeping grasp of the Third Reich's history and of the enormous historical literature. The account is peppered with insightful anecdotes drawn from diaries, letters and speeches. What comes across most clearly is the supreme arrogance of the Nazis and the utterly rapacious character of their rule. Evans gives the Holocaust the centrality it deserves, while also depicting effectively the suffering of Poles and many others under Nazi domination. Evans offers a nuanced picture of the lives of Germans, but ultimately, he suggests, the Nazis' racial ideology thoroughly corrupted German society. Evans narrates the Reich's end in gripping fashion as the Allies closed in on Germany. Evans's fellow historians as well as a broader public will read this work, not quite with pleasure, for there is little joy in this story, but with admiration for the author's narrative powers. Illus., maps. (Mar. 23)
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From Bookmarks Magazine

Evans receives a hero’s welcome in the press as he lays his final World War II tome, a towering, somber achievement of scholarship and narrative, to rest. As in the preceding volumes, Evans judiciously employs first-hand sources, measured judgments, and impeccable research to craft what most reviewers hail as the definitive work on the Third Reich of our generation. Evans never flinches from the gruesome details of this tragic historical period, yet as the Guardian notes, “in an almost Wagnerian way, you need to see the madness complete; you need to watch Berlin burning, a pyre of malevolent dreams. This is the fire Hitler built.” Despite the Spectator critic’s minor complaints about confusing endnotes and maps, that critic’s view represents the others: “If you have the time to read only a single book on Nazi Germany, this is the one.”
Copyright 2009 Bookmarks Publishing LLC

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 944 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The (March 19, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781594202063
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594202063
  • ASIN: 1594202060
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #313,606 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

194 of 200 people found the following review helpful By Graham on March 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Richard Evans' three volume masterwork seems destined to become one of the definitive histories of the Third Reich. It is thoroughly researched, enormously detailed, very well written, and extremely grim reading. This third and last volume covers the final excesses of the regime, as it moved through increasingly radical steps to attempt to both win the war and to meet its self imposed racial goals.

As Evans notes, this volume is centered on the Third Reich itself and is not intended to be a general history of WWII. While there is some coverage of key military campaigns, the main focus is on the territory controlled by the Third Reich, with special attention being paid to the dark events in Eastern Europe.

A key part of Prof. Evans' contribution is that he allows us to see the impact of the Third Reich at a local, grass roots level. He makes copious use of diaries, showing the tedium, stoicism, or despair of civilians' everyday lives. In the earlier volumes we saw the creation in Germany of a pervasive Orwellian totalitarian state, which tried to be all-controlling but was also careful to retain a populist base. Now we see that totalitarian state reaching out into territories where the constraints of popular support are both unnecessary and unwanted.

In reading Evans' three volumes, I have occasionally felt exhausted by his detailed descriptions of so many terrible events. But his relentless detail is also key to understanding the real scope of what was happening. It is very tempting to caricaturize the Third Reich by focusing on its senior leadership and reducing its history to a small set of two-dimensional villains in strange costumes, clicking heels and ordering evil deeds. Well unfortunately the reality was much uglier than that.
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86 of 93 people found the following review helpful By John E. Mack on April 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My God, what a horrible book! Not that the book itself is bad -- it is very good indeed. But its subject matter and exposition is unrelievedly hideous. Virtually every chapter seems to have a new statistic detailing hundreds of thousands of people being killed. And the author has almost nothing good to say about its subject -- the Third Reich from 1939 to 1945. That is probably because there is almost nothing good to say about it.

While there is probably not much new in this book, it is a marvellous compendium of what is known about World War II Germany. Naturally, any book on the war years is bound to be selective, and I think Evans does the average reader a favor by accentuating the negative. Not only were the heads of the Nazi heirarchy murderous beasts -- the military leadership were mostly moral cretins, and when they were not moral cretins, were complicit thugs. The civil service and the industrial complex were self-serving cowards at best and more often, complicit vipers. Even the German citizenry, while not quite "Hitler's Willing Executioners," were more than willing to support the regime and overlook its crimes until they were bombed back into the stone age.

On top of everything else, they were strategically and politically stupid. Evans makes it clear, by detailing production and population figures, that there was never a realistic chance that Germany could achieve its wartime goals, much less conquer the world. Taking on three major opponents at once, each of which could outproduce and outman Germany, was madness.

The great virtue of this book is to disabuse anyone who might be tempted to admire the Third Reich -- particularly adolecent males who could be seduced by the Wehrmacht's "heroism" or German military efficiency.
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47 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Keith A. Comess VINE VOICE on May 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"The Third Reich at War" represents the final installment of Richard J. Evans' panoptic on the Second World War. All three volumes are scholarly masterpieces.

Hitler's war has probably spawned more articles and books than could possibly be read and absorbed by even the most insatiable professional historian or dedicated lay reader. In other words, even excepting the barrage of sensational fictional works on television, in the print media and on the "silver screen", there's just far too much serious literature and research for consumption. So, out of the cornucopia of works, even those of that attempt an historical synthesis on a "grand scale", why this one? In a phrase, because its probably the best overview of Hitler's Reich so far published.

Contrary to the title's implication, this book does not present a detailed battlefield analysis of Wehrmacht strategy and tactics. The emphasis instead is on the Nazi motives for the war of aggression; how matters were handled; how ordinary (and extra-ordinary) Germans reacted and perceived events as they unfolded: the how and why, in other words.

As it happens, the central ideological tenants used to justify the invasion of Europe and later the USSR, were far from rational calculations undertaken by reasonable, pragmatic and logical thinkers. Rather, the war was an integral component of a Nazi goulash of popular current eugenic theory, "racial science" and really rank anti-Semitism viewed through a lens of Social Darwinism. As Evans explains it, the ideologies then current in Nazi Germany were so weird, so bizarre, so fantastic and so overweening as to be blinding. Thus, Nazi true believers evidently could not realize the toxic and fatal consequences for Germany which would follow from actually implementing these beliefs.
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